Justin Mapp was acquired by the Union on July 26 from the Chicago Fire in exchange for allocation money.
Player movement is far from uncommon in Major League Soccer circles, but it can take quite a while for certain players to get acclimated to their new surroundings.
How long did it take for Mapp?
“It happened right away,” he said. “This organization welcomed me with such open arms. It was heartwarming. When you get traded, it’s tough. From the minute I got to Philadelphia, they made me feel like part of the family. I’ll never forget that.”
Mapp finished with one goal and four assists for Philadelphia while providing invaluable wing play in the midfield.
For the Union, it was a win-win situation to be able to get a player of Mapp’s status midway through the season.
“I was very excited when we made this move,” said forward Sebastien Le Toux. “Justin is a great player and we were lucky to get him. Not that often can you get a very, very good player like this in the middle of a season. It was a major move.”
Mapp registered a career-high eight assists on three occasions – 2005, ’06 and ’08. In ’06, Mapp was named to the MLS Best XI squad.
All numbers aside, Mapp is focused on one thing these days: winning.
“We got a taste of winning last season,” Mapp said. “This organization is fully committed to winning and of course, I want to be part of it. They do everything the right way. As players, we want to do everything we can to help push it along. I don’t think it will be long at all for us. We’re moving in a positive way. I think we have a great chance of making a playoff run this season. I really don’t see any reason why that couldn’t happen.”
Mapp was planning on taking some time off before diving back into his training regimen.
“You have to take care of your body,” Mapp said. “That’s very important, the older you get. You have to get some rest, too, especially mentally. In this league, the mental aspect can be as tough as the physical aspect. You need a balance. I think we were all nicked up physically by the end of the season. I feel good now. I’m going to relax for a bit through the holidays and then gear back up physically to prepare for another season.”
Another season at raucous PPL Park is something Mapp is relishing.
“No question,” he said. “Our fans are the best in the league. They’re loud. They’re supportive. They’re passionate. When we start stringing wins together, these fans are going to be the ones who deserve it. I think we’re all looking forward to next season. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
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